The Garden City Refugee

Musings from around the Niagara Region and elsewhere

Blog Home Archive About Curtis

Over the River LVIII

November 27, 2019

Observations and pictures from my 58th two-wheeled trip to the Great State of New York:

1. Serving me at U.S. Customs was the same officer I had in three consecutive visits earlier this year. In addition, I recognized each of the Metro drivers I had going to and from Buffalo. I am getting around. And often.

2. As always, hanging with the homies at the Portage Road Transportation Center is an experience. After declining an offer to give 50 cents to one of them who was strolling by on the sidewalk, I listened to the rantings of a developmentally challenged woman who stopped on her way through the adjacent parking lot. Dressed in her pajama bottoms, she was bellyaching about having to listen to the other person’s emotional problems because she’s “got her own sh*t.” The guy with her was wearing a jacket from Niagara Falls High School, and from the looks of him, a no-fail policy would be the only possible way he could have graduated, if, in fact, he did.

3. As the Homie Express rolled on past the South Grand Island Bridge, one of the homies in the back began singing. Don’t quit your day job, dude. If you have one, that is.

4. Dear Operator 5631: Those notes you were reading looked fascinating. But NFTA does give you enough layover time to be able to read them. You know, when you’re not barreling down a bumpy Niagara Street with a busload of passengers.

5. At the stop on Ellicott Street just before the Metropolitan Transportation Center, one guy got off hoping to catch the #5 bus that was right in front of us. The driver honked to alert the #5 bus, yet it took off just as the guy got to the front door. Waiting at the red light, we watched as the poor guy did a full sprint down Ellicott, where he finally caught up with the #5 bus three blocks later. All in all, it was a classic Winnipeg Transit moment, though, unlike what would have happened in the Old Country, the guy at least caught his bus.

6. Inside the washroom at the Metropolitan Transportation Center, a homie was having some real problems at the urinal. After squatting up and down several times, he finally got the flow going, then celebrated his accomplishment by breaking out into song while washing his hands. I suppose when you’ve got prostate trouble, being able to relieve yourself is worth singing about.

7. Somehow, I don’t think people in this part of the world would be so “fearless” if they had to spend a few winters in the Old Country . . .

8. The Ice at Canalside:


9. Scenes at the Erie Basin Marina, including a few from the observation deck:






10. A veritable smorgasbord of goodies left behind, including a half-eaten salad smothered in guck, an empty KFC box, an empty liquor bottle, plastic cutlery, pre-moistened wipes and even a comb. It makes you wonder how any bum could leave such a bounty left unattended.

11. Old Bones . . . by Carley Hill. Not the right spelling, but loyal readers will get the idea. I was not alone.


It was soon followed by this tear-jerker at the WNY Vietnam Memorial:

12. It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine, but no politician’s name needs to be on signs like this:

13. The intersection of Marine Drive and Marine Drive:

14. This is a bike lane. Except on garbage day, when it’s a garbage lane.

15. A couple of scenes at the Marine Midland Arena HSBC Arena First Niagara Center KeyBank Center:


15a. Let the record reflect that I’ve now been inside the arena where the Dallas Stars won the Stanley Cup in 1999. Longtime readers may be aware that I was quite the fan of the Stars when I still cared about the NHL.

16. While waiting out on the platform at the Metropolitan Transportation Center for a Niagara Falls-bound bus, a nearby homie was apologetic for letting out a loud burp, but not for smoking in an area where it’s expressly prohibited and buses are pulling in and out with regularity.

17. I am still astounded that NFTA has not installed backup horns on their buses, leaving drivers to have to blast their horns when exiting the Metropolitan Transportation Center.

18. On the outbound #40 route, all drivers, including the one I had on this trip, routinely ask every passenger boarding within Buffalo if they’re headed for Niagara Falls, as there are no dropoffs until the Black Rock/Riverside transit hub. It is a detail clearly printed on the schedule and well known even to me as a non-resident of the area, yet a couple rang the bell just past Niagara Square hoping to get off early. Despite pleading their case to the driver, they had to stay on board until Ontario Street and had a long way to go back.

For the record, on the inbound trips, there are no pickups within Buffalo, only dropoffs. It’s a Buffalo to and from out-of-Buffalo route, not a Buffalo-to-Buffalo route.

19. An older homie who boarded on Grand Island was lamenting to the driver about how his colleagues were getting their hours reduced at his workplace, but twice stressed how dependable he was. As if the driver had some say as to whether or not his hours would be reduced.

20. Dear Operator 4346: Wouldn’t it be easier for you to simply reduce your speed in advance of a stop instead of putting down the hammer and having to slam on the brakes? Oh, and if you’re having trouble with the steering, maybe you should consider not driving like a maniac. Just saying.

21. A trip like this wouldn’t be complete without having to give directions to tourists and this one would prove to be no exception. At the Niagara USA Visitor Center, a couple from Ontario stopped in the middle of the roundabout to ask me where Buffalo Avenue was, and at the Niagara Falls (Canada) Bus Terminal, a couple asked me where they could catch a cab.

22. Let the record reflect that the filter at the water fountain at the Niagara Falls Bus Terminal is still out of commission and has been for nearly a full year.

23. While waiting for a GO bus, I watched a guy emptying the coins out of the gumball machines with his bare hands. Then he proceeded to refill those same machines while holding his hand over the candies to make sure they didn’t spill on the ground. Even if his hands were clean, this wouldn’t exactly be a practice they would teach you in a food handling course, but particularly so since he was just handling money, one of the dirtiest items you can find.

  Previous post